How to figure people out - Machiavelli Psychology
Any man who tries to be good all the time is bound to come to ruin among the great number who are not good. Hence a prince who wants to keep his authority must learn now not to be good, and use that knowledge, or refrain from using it, as a necessity requires. -Niccolo Machiavelli, 1469-1527
In 1862 a man, named Otto Von Bismarck, became prime minister of Prussia. He was known for his ambition to lead his country against hatred Austria. However, apart from his King William, most people in the government did not
share the same opinion: They considered such an idea, wrong for their country and considered Bismarck as someone dangerous, holding now a very sensitive position. Bismarck knew that his position was being dug from beneath and that if he didn’t act immediately, sooner or later people would make sure that he would be removed from that post.
Only one week later from his debut as a premier, Bismarck entered a room full of ministers and gave an amazing speech, stunning all of his audience: Not only he didn’t try to hide out his ambitions but even more, he advocated the preparation of a new German army. He concluded his speech by saying: ‘The great questions of the time will be decided, not by speeches and resolutions of majorities, but by iron and blood’.
By the end of the speech, all the people in the room were numb.
In the few days that followed, the ensemble of the government seemed to turn against him and even the queen started to scream against her husband William that Bismarck should be removed and if not they would both probably end up like the French kings: Beheaded.
Bullied from all sides, King William asked Bismarck to come to his palace to have a discussion. However, Otto Von Bismarck was a man that did his homework: He had studied his King from head to toe and he knew what his thumbscrew was.
When they met, King William started saying that if Bismarck would continue to spread his ideas, they would both end up guillotined. To his king surprise, Bismarck answered:“Then we shall die! We must die sooner or later, and could there be a more respectable way of dying ? I should die fighting for the cause of my king and master. Your Majesty would die sealing with your own blood your royal rights granted by God’s grace. Whether upon the scaffold or upon the battlefield makes no difference to the glorious staking of body and life on behalf of rights granted by God’s grace!”.
Bismarck knew that his King had a military background, a deep sense of honour and that he was being bullied by everyone. He had understood that despite the fact that he was being influenced by his wife, deep inside he wanted to be a bold and mighty King.
In the days following their meeting, the King surprised all his ministers and gave his prime minister the green light to expand Prussia’s army program. In the years that came Bismarck led Prussia into a war with Austria, crushing the former empire and establishing one powerful German country.
Why would you want to figure out another person ?
So me and you we are not Prime ministers and we are not Kings. Why should we try to read someone else ??
First and foremost, by profiling people, you will have generally less conflicts. This will happen because you will start to understand better THEIR view of the world. Second, by being able to tell who is the person sitting at the other end of the table, you will automatically become a very powerful communicator. Third, at some point you will start to develop a certain empathy that stops the limiting, human instinct of avoiding anyone that doesn’t look or behave exactly like me and you.
However, the most important reason to profile someone, is the following one: Better prediction accuracy. If this isn’t making you dance Lambada, let me put it differently: You will be able to manipulate people much better than before. Being more manipulative, as Michael Hall put it, is something good that will enable you to handle your self and others more effectively and respectfully
How do you read someone ??
a) The first step you will have to take is to be ready to read. This is NOT as simple as it sounds. You may be standing in front of something as big and as obvious, as the mountain Fuji, and you may STILL miss it altogether. In order to perform a successful read, you must stop whatever else you are doing and pay attention to what the other person is telling or showing you, using all of your senses.
b) Know what you are searching for: People are really complicated and if you don’t know what you are looking for, you can get easily lost. The type of lost that we are talking about is not the one that you will get, if you miss a turn while driving in the city. The kind of lost we are talking about is the one that Alice in wonderland felt: Complete and absurd.
c) Learn how to listen:
- Do NOT interrupt.
- Do NOT condemn or patronize.
- Make sure that your Body Language stays neutral. If not, it will have an impact on the speaker and as a result he or she will try to say what she thinks you want to hear.
- Learn how to listen using ALL of your senses.
d) Always have some good, open ended questions at hand:
They will help the conversation to keep going and they will make your target talk more about herself.
e) If someone tries to take the conversation away from where you want to take it, ask him why.
f) Now watch out for one of the following:
-Slang: Bad grammar, trendy sayings and colloquialisms. If they can be turned on and off at will, then something is strange.
-Profanity: How often is it used ? What is its significance ?
-Bragging: This shows arrogance, some ego situation, possible insecurity served with a touch of lying.
-Exaggeration: It is a sure sign of dishonesty and maybe a sign of low self esteem.
-Self Criticism: A bit is OK but if it is driven to extremes, it may reveal a deep insecurity.
-Gossip: A classic tool of the unhappy, insecure and manipulative.
-Humour: If it is lighthearted it is OK, but if it is sarcastic it says a lot about the jokester.
-Sarcasm: If it is used too often, it shows some insecurity and if it is quite aggressive you may be dealing with someone insecure and quite selfish. However, if kept in logical doses, it is a great tool of making a point.
g) Look out for the things someone is doing and not only for the things someone is saying. If his acts are incongruent with his sayings then pay attention to his doings. For example: If someone likes you even if his sayings are sarcastic, he may act in a way that he will protect you. In that case blame the game and not the player because he doesn’t mean bad to you.
h) Remember: Mistakes are things we do once or maybe twice. If the same pattern is repeated many times, it is no longer a mistake and excuses are no longer enough.
Surface Patterns (Behavior):
-Fanfare: It means insecurity.
-Selfishness: In any form it may appear, it means that someone is egocentric, jealous, insecure and really but REALLY competitive.
-Performance under fire: It is at those moments under pressure that people show their true character.
-Avoidance: What someone is NOT doing says as much as what someone IS doing.
-Moralizing: People that preach and moralize either they have a secret agenda or they are trying to hide the fact that they are afraid of something.
-Spending habits: Any extremes in this category shows some insecurity.
-Trust your intuition: Intuition is nothing more than your subconscious that has realised of something but you haven’t verbalised yet.
-Search for anything unusual: The extreme habits show a lot about his character. Continue
Last Modified: 02-Feb-2008
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